We are on a journey in the Central District to understand our vision of being Christ-Centered, Community-Connected, and Missionally-Centric, both individually and as a collective of congregations. This week we will explore what it means to be Community-Connected.
If you were unaware, the Central District encompasses six counties, which includes: Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby. As I am making my way around the district, I am asking questions about the congregations, but also about the communities’ ills and needs. I am learning more about these communities and sense there are great needs that plague the people, and our congregations are seeking ways to assist in meeting the rising challenges.
When we talk about being Community-Connected, we are offering opportunities for our congregations to be in ministry with others within our communities. This may mean we need to regularly meet with the local school principal and simply ask how our congregation can be of service. This may mean we need to partner with social service organizations and ask how we can lend a helping hand. It may mean that we need to collaborate with other faith leaders in the community to have a combined reach to begin addressing the systematic challenges and eradicating root causes. In other words, if our congregations strive to have an influential voice in the community, we must begin building solid relationships with other community leaders. Here is a link to other considerations that Rev. Tom Heaton (Associate Director of Mission and Justice) compiled: Engaging Community Leaders. Additionally, we have an engaged community partner in the Central District, called Metro Ministries, which offers resources to assist our congregations in being neighborly and bringing about transformation. Please utilize these opportunities to connect with Metro Ministries, as these are your district tithe dollars working for impact in our communities (please visit: www.indymetroumc.org/).
The reminder about being Community-Connected came when I attended Edgewood UMC a few Sundays ago. It was during the Children’s Message when Rev. Paul Wagner began explaining to the children about the perpetual light that hangs in the sanctuary, and also about the Light of Christ in the world. As an application for the message, he gave each child a night light for them to take home and be reminded of the Light. It was one child, whose name is Eli (about 3 or 4 years old), that warmed my heart. As Eli made his way back to the pew, he was showing off the night light to everyone who would pay attention. You would have thought it was Christmas in August the way this young man boasted and proudly shared about the gift of this night light.
Friends, I believe when we become more Community-Connected, not just through our financial gifts, but also through our prayers, presence, service, and witness, we too will have people who are so excited about encountering Christ’s Light, that they will begin sharing it with others. I believe we, who are faithful followers of Jesus Christ, must give some type of witness and express some type of joy to this life with Jesus. I believe we must begin to share the excitement of Christ’s Love and radiate Christ’s Light; that indeed there is Hope, and we are proudly showing up to be the Hope-bearers. May we go and do like Eli, so that our communities will know that we care!
Dr. Aleze M. Fulbright
Conference Superintendent Serving the Central District